Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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Asians for Black Lives Condemn
By Sasha W., Jackie Yang, Cristina Lor, Kabzuag Vaj, Zon Moua, Claire Tran, Lori Lopez, and Kayleb Her
The news of the non-indictment broke our hearts yet again. As Asians for Black Lives, we remember how our hearts broke
after Mike Brown's killer walked free. After Tamir Rice's killer walked free. After Rekia Boyd's killer walked free. After Mya Hall's
killer walked free.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne’s decision in the Tony Robinson case did not surprise us, as it followed the
recent chain of non-indictments in nearly every high profile shooting of an unarmed Black person. When police officers are
able to walk free even after their blatant abuse of power is documented, it is no surprise when Officer Matt Kenny, a 13- year
veteran on the police force, was also allowed to walk free even though he shot Tony multiple times and ended his life on
March 6, 2015. We hold our breath every time there is a chance that an officer might be indicted, but that moment passes as
soon as it arrives. The history of our country’s non-indictments of officers who use deadly force against our unarmed Black
neighbors and communities highlights, time and time again, our lack of accountability for police violence and brutality. When
we choose to not hold our officers accountable for their actions, we are telling them again and again that it is okay to shoot
and kill our neighbors. In response to Baltimore’s call for a Black Spring, Asians for Black Lives are also standing up in
solidarity with our Black neighbors across the nation.
Tony Robinson’s murder is a direct result of state violence that has long existed in our state and our country, and that
violence needs to be addressed so that we won’t have another Tony Robinson murder on the hands of our State. In Madison,
the Young Gifted and Black Coalition is part of that movement that is addressing the racist policing that stems from this
violence. Like the Tony Robinson murder, arresting Black people in Madison at a rate of 11 to 1 is state violence. Refusing to
indict a police officer after blatant overuse of force is state violence. We can no longer pretend that these issues are the fault
of any one individual. These issues are structural, and require structural solutions. Madison prides itself on being a liberal
city. There is no shortage here of well-meaning white liberals — people who vote Democrat, who believe in the abstract
ideas of justice and equality, who believe that they are on the right side of history. But well-meaning intentions do not
translate to real power. Black people live under occupation in this city, despite good intentions. If there is any hope of
Madison losing its title of the worst place in the nation to raise Black children, we need to build opportunities for Black people
and build real power for Black communities.
Our community, our city, our nation is unable to hold police officers accountable because this country, at its core, believes
that killing Black communities is acceptable. In a nation built on racism, with a police force built on the control of Black
bodies, police departments structurally cannot be held accountable to Black people. As today's non-indictment yet again
reminds us, police officers are allowed to kill Black people without even the premise of accountability. Our "Madison Method"
of policing, touted so highly by Chief Koval, is no different than any other city. The only way to make police departments
accountable to all the communities that they purport to serve is to give communities control over the police. If the police have
any chance of protecting and serving us, we need to have complete control of our own policing and our own communities.
Neighborhoods need the ability to hire and fire officers, to determine what safety means to us, and to hold killer cops
accountable. And we need to follow the lead of those most impacted — of Black communities in Madison — to show us what
community control over the police looks like in practice. Black communities have been under occupation, and they need to
show us the way to liberation.
Madison needs, and is experiencing, a wake-up call. Over the course of the last couple of months, we have seen the Young
Gifted and Black Coalition demonstrate what an empowered community looks like in practice. As Asian Americans, we
understand that we are part of that larger community in Madison, and we are part of a larger movement towards justice. We
are dismayed by media reports that frame the tactics used by Young Gifted and Black as alienating to their supporters. We
firmly believe that direct action is not only what is needed here, but it is also what called us to stand in solidarity with the
Black Lives Matter movement. There is no transference of power without direct action. We further resist assumptions that as
“the model minority,” Asians are not concerned with the impact of today’s decision — we too are negatively impacted by state
violence, and we too call for a systemic change. It is therefore our responsibility, at a point of privilege as the “model minority”
that we aid in the fight against state violence and racist institutions.
As Asians for Black Lives, our hearts break again today, and we renew our commitment to stand with Young Gifted and Black
until state violence against Black communities ends. We hope that you, too, are saddened by the message that taking Black
life in this community, this city, this country is not worthy of punishment. We ask that you join us in standing with Young Gifted
and Black Coalition until all of us can actually call Madison home.